by Erick Perez
I was only nine-years-old when I flew to Mexico to meet my grandma for the first time. I was going to have to go by myself, sadly. My parents couldn’t go because of their immigration status.
My journey started in the back of my parents’ car with a drive from Philadelphia to New York so I could take a direct flight. In the car, I felt a little nervous. Mostly because I didn’t know what was coming next.
When I got to the airport I saw people waiting in lines, people walking and people sitting waiting for their flight. I first had to go through security. I began to get nervous again, not because I had a weapon, or anything even close to that, but because I didn’t know what might be considered one. Once I passed through the metal detector, I felt silly about how nervous I’d been. I was just being cleared for safety reasons.
Once through security, I waved good-bye to my parents with some tears. I was already starting to get a little homesick. I was going to be away from my parents for months in a place where I didn’t know anyone. Walking to my plane, I stopped to look through a big glass window. In the distance I saw the sunrise shining bright. I was ready for this physically, but my emotions were going crazy. At the gate, an airport employee led me onto the plane along with a group of kids who were also traveling to Mexico.
At the entrance to the plane, there were two hostesses waving and welcoming everyone. Lucky for me, I got a window seat. One of the hostesses took me to my seat and asked me to stay there. I saw people passing by with bags. Meanwhile, I sat looking outside the window, just waiting to depart. Suddenly, a teenage girl and an older woman sat down in the two seats next to me. Later I found out they were mother and daughter.
“Tears were running down
my face non-stop.”
Suddenly there was a loud announcement. It was the pilot telling us we were going to lift off. At this point reality came to me. First, I had never been in a plane before. Second, what were the possibilities of the plane crashing? My heart was beating. Out the window, I could see us lift off and suddenly I started to cry, real crying. Tears were running down my face non-stop. I felt lonely, scared and sad. I held tightly to the side of the seat when I felt a touch on my hand. It was the teenage girl sitting next to me. She said “todo va a estar bien no tengas miedo.” (Everything will be fine don’t be scared.)
I started to calm down. Someone was with me after all. My heart slowed way down but then midway through the flight I starting to think about the fact that I was 30,000 feet above ground and a fall from here would be pretty deadly. What was I doing here? But I knew I had to try to enjoy my first time in a plane. I was supposed to, right? So I did.
A hostess gave me headphones so I could watch a movie. In the sky, 30,000 feet above sea level. Not many people get the chance to do that. I was living life to the fullest. When it was time to land in Mexico City, they asked all the passengers to put their seatbelts back on. When the plane’s tires touched the ground, it was very bumpy. My body jumped from my seat. Soon the hostess came for me and took me to where I could meet up with my grandma. I walked through a big corridor to a big open area where people were looking for their kids. My mom had shown me photos of my grandma. But there were so many faces.
I heard names being screamed, then, suddenly, “Erik!”
I tried to see who had shouted my name. I saw a woman looking at me but wasn’t sure if she was my grandma. She had glasses and she looked very young. But I felt much more secure when I got up close and saw she looked just like my mom! When I got to her, she hugged me, then she burst into tears. I was finally with her. I felt at home.
We need courage to try new things, to visit different places and to meet new people. Most of all we need the courage to be alone. I feel brave every time I remember how I took a chance to travel by myself all the way to Mexico. It’s that courage I think about every time I face obstacles. There’s no room inside of me anymore to be scared.
Erick Perez is 12-years-old and in the seventh grade at Andrew Jackson Elementary School in South Philadelphia. He has been part of Mighty Writers El Futuro for three years.